Sign up Australia
Proactive Investors - Run By Investors For Investors
Why invest in KENV?
Kennedy Ventures: THE INVESTMENT CASE

Kennedy Ventures ramping up tantalum production and cutting costs in Namibia

“Nothing electronic would turn in the world if it wasn’t for tantalum.” It is, he says, “a very, very important product.”
picture of aeroengine
INVESTMENT OVERVIEW: KENV The Big Picture
Nothing would turn without tantalum

When he was offered the chief executive’s job at Kennedy Ventures PLC (LON:KENV), Larry Johnson was initially reluctant.

It wasn’t that he didn’t see the potential.

On the contrary, as a man with 35 years in the tantalum business, and much Africa experience to bring to bear too, he was only too aware of the quality of the Tantalite Valley mine.

No-nonsense approach

But with the asset also came certain entrenched practices that Johnson wanted to change by applying his no-nonsense approach.

“I’m an executioner,” he says. “I get a plan and I execute it.”

Chairman Giles Clarke was unequivocal. “He told me: ‘We need someone to come in here and really drive this project,’” recalls Johnson.

And so that’s what happened.

Johnson was appointed in January of this year, and set to work. He now lives at the Tantalite Valley mine, getting around the local dirt tracks on his Harley Davidson, and is slowly but surely fashioning an operation in his own image.

The first thing he had to fix was the shift patterns of the workforce. This presented a challenge because the Namibian workforce is heavily unionized. But on the other side of the coin, Johnson also realized that unemployment in the southern part of the country, where Tantalite Valley is located, is very high.

There was leverage to be had, if deftly applied.

And Johnson’s approach was simple.

He negotiated changes to the inefficient shift patterns that were affecting productivity, while firmly establishing the local Kennedy subsidiary in everybody’s minds as the largest employer in the district. So far so good.

Local team in charge

In addition, though, he also set about eliminating the historic South African influence at the mine. He is now, he says, the only non-Namibian on the mine, and this plays well, both in terms of generating good will and in terms of the efficiency.

“We’re on two shifts now,” he says. “It’s going well. I’ve already broached the idea of going multi-shift, which would be to take the mine to 24 hours.”

That’s all to the good from the point of view of on-ground operations. But from the investor perspective there needs to be more.

Here too, Johnson’s impact was almost immediate. Within a month or so of his appointment a customer had been secured for the company’s tantalum product, and not just a trader - subject to the whims and vagaries of spot-pricing - but a proper end-user.

It remains to be seen what precise financial impact this deal will have, since it’s all subject to confidentiality and it won’t show up fully in Kennedy’s accounts for a little while yet.

But two shipments have now been made, with more to come before year end, and in greater quantity too as plant upgrades continue. A second customer has also been showing real interest and, as Johnson builds scale and a track record, this may be a sign of things to come.

Certainly, the fundamentals remain in place. As Johnson says: “Nothing electronic would turn in the world if it wasn’t for tantalum.” It is, he says, “a very, very important product.”

And Kennedy may have more of it to offer to the market soon, too. There’s the ongoing ramp-up, of course. But more than that, there’s also exploration in and around the mine. This has shown significant prospectivity both for tantalum and for lithium, and work on proving up this potential should provide plenty of interesting newsflow in the weeks and months ahead. 

View full KENV profile View Profile

Kennedy Ventures Timeline

Related Articles

Lithium_381225958.jpg
January 28 2017
Rainmaker Resources may have been conspicuous by its absence from news feeds for a few months and its shares may be towards the bottom of its historical range, but investments are made of far more than that
De Grey Mining's Simon Lill at Proactive's CEO Sessions
November 16 2017
Simon Lill discussed with investors conglomerate gold targets in the Pilbara.
latin-resources-Chris-Gale-757.jpg
January 25 2017
Samples grading up to 4.46% lithium oxide were taken from drill targets.

No investment advice

The information on this Site is of a general nature only. It does not take your specific needs or circumstances into consideration, so you should look at your own financial position, objectives and requirements and seek financial advice before making any financial decisions. You acknowledge and understand that neither the Company, its related bodies corporate, the information providers or their affiliates will advise you personally about the nature, potential value or suitability of any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, investment strategy, or other matter. You should read our FSG and any other relevant disclosure documents and if necessary seek persona advice prior to making any investment decision.

You understand and agree that no Content (as defined below) published on the Site constitutes a recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction, or investment strategy is suitable or advisable for any specific person.

You understand that in certain circumstances the Company, its related bodies corporate, the information providers or their affiliates may have received, or be entitled to receive, financial or other consideration in connection with promoting, and providing information about, certain entities on the Site and in communications otherwise provided to you.

You understand that price and other data is supplied by sources believed to be reliable, that the calculations herein are made using such data, and that neither such data nor such calculations are guaranteed by these sources, the Company, the information providers or any other person or entity, and may not be complete or accurate. From time to time, reference may be made in our marketing materials to prior articles and opinions we have published. These references may be selective, may reference only a portion of an article or recommendation, and are likely not to be current. As markets change continuously, previously published information and data may not be current and should not be relied upon.

Before you act on any general advice we provide, please consider whether it is appropriate for your personal circumstances.

© Proactive Investors 2018

Proactive Investors Australia PTY LTD ACN:132787654 ABN:19132787654.

Market Indices, Commodities and Regulatory News Headlines copyright © Morningstar. Data delayed 15 minutes unless otherwise indicated. Terms of use